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N.Y.'s WFAN has signed Mike Francesa to a long-term extension, keeping the radio host in the afternoon drive slot for several years. The contract's length and value were not made available initially. As part of the deal, CBS Sports Radio will make Francesa's Sunday morning show "The NFL Now" available to its 250+ affiliates across the country. Francesa joined WFAN when the radio station launched in '87 (John Ourand, Staff Writer).
GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER? NEWSDAY's Neil Best wrote on Twitter, "There is no chance of "Mike and the Mad Dog" getting back together. Not sure where Chris Russo will end up. Sirius deal expires in Sept. ... BTW still no timetable for CBS Radio to put its national shows on its AM or FM channel in NY. WFAN stays on both channels for now. ... Not sure where Chris Russo ends up. Re-sign with Sirius for less money? NBC radio/TV? Obviously juiciest scenario is going to ESPN" (TWITTER.com, 4/2).
CBS and Turner Sports are averaging a 6.2 fast-national Nielsen rating through the Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament, marking the best rating at this point in the event since '05 (6.3 rating). The 6.2 rating also is up 9% from the same period last year. Sunday’s doubleheader on CBS finished with a 7.4 rating, up 25% from last year (CBS/Turner). VARIETY's Rick Kissell noted CBS "emerged the winner among the broadcast networks on Sunday, riding a college basketball overrun and '60 Minutes' to victory in key demos on a night that figured to produce some strong ratings for shows on cablers." A 41-minute overrun from the Louisville-Duke game and the beginning portion of “60 Minutes” averaged "a dominant 4.2 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 15.7 million viewers overall on the net’s stations" from 7:00-8:00pm ET (VARIETY.com, 4/1).
WELL PLAYED: NPR's Linda Holmes wrote of the decision by many media outlets not to replay footage of Louisville G Kevin Ware's injury, "I found myself ultimately satisfied with the way things turned out, in that a viewer had to seek it out in order to see it." Sports coverage "usually works the opposite way: It's the broadcast equivalent of a push technology." Holmes: "I'm more convinced by the 'it is news' argument than by the 'people want to watch it' argument, since the latter really would seem to allow a slippery slope." It "is news, this accident." It happened "in a game that was already a national story, as opposed to some high school game." Furthermore, it "raises -- or, really, re-raises -- critical questions about how the NCAA works and the financial position in which injured players are left, usually in situations not nearly this high in profile" (NPR.org, 4/1).
TIME FOR SOME NEW MATERIAL: In Baltimore, Kevin Cowherd wrote the AT&T commercials with the kids gathered around the classroom table answering questions "were cute the first time around." Maybe the "first 10 times around." But around the "10,000th time around, they got really, really annoying." And since it is "apparently a law that no NCAA tournament game can be broadcast without 15 or 20 of these spots, the annoyance level has now reached epic, gouge-out-your-eyeballs, please-make-it-stop extremes." There are a "couple of new spots that feature" Basketball HOFers Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell. They are both "OK spots -- whimsical, semi-clever, not hysterically funny." But if AT&T continues to "air them ad nauseum, as they do with all their other 'kids' commercials, we'll grow to hate these spots, too" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 4/1).
Bonnie Bernstein will become the on-camera face of Campus Insiders, a digital sports network jointly owned by IMG College and Silver Chalice. The group plans to announce today that it has hired Bernstein as VP/Content & Brand Development. In her role, Bernstein will host a daily show from Chicago's Harpo Studios that will offer opinion and news via CampusInsiders.com. Campus Insiders Exec VP & GM Crowley Sullivan said, "We didn't hire Bonnie to just host some program for us." Rather, Bernstein also will hire talent and develop programming. Sullivan: "While a lot of platforms out there create a lot buzz, in the long run, the ones that are going to be the most successful are the platforms that are going to deliver the best content with the best people telling the best stories." To that end, CBS college basketball analyst Seth Davis and CollegeFootballNews.com Founder Pete Fiutak already have signed deals to be on-camera. And the company plans to set up a network of "insiders" based at around 100 colleges by the fall. Many of those insiders will be based at schools that have deals with IMG College, but not all of them. Sullivan said, "The opportunity to be in partnership with IMG gives us confidence. This isn't a group of guys in the garage trying to set up a website." Sullivan added that IMG's presence helped to finalize deals with both Bernstein and Davis.